Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the Classics

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9780471442769: Glorious French Food: A Fresh Approach to the Classics
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From the James Beard award--winning author of Sauces-a new classic on French cuisine for today's cook

His award-winning books have won the praise of The New York Times and Gourmet magazine as well as such culinary luminaries as chefs Daniel Boulud, Jeremiah Tower, and Alice Waters. Now James Peterson brings his tremendous stores of culinary knowledge, energy, and imagination to this fresh and inspiring look at the classic dishes of French cuisine. With a refreshing, broadminded approach that embraces different French cooking styles-from fine dining to bistro-style cooking, from hearty regional fare to nouvelle cuisine-Peterson uses fifty "foundation" French dishes as the springboard to preparing a variety of related dishes. In his inventive hands, the classic Moules à la marinière inspires the delightful Miniature Servings of Mussels with Sea Urchin Sauce and Mussel Soup with Garlic Puree and Saffron, while the timeless Duck à l'orange gives rise to the subtle Salad of Sautéed or Grilled Duck Breasts and Sautéed Duck Breasts with Classic Orange Sauce. Through these recipes, Peterson reveals the underlying principles and connections in French cooking that liberate readers to devise and prepare new dishes on their own. With hundreds recipes and dazzling color photography throughout, Glorious French Food gives everyone who enjoys cooking access to essential French cooking traditions and techniques and helps them give free reign to the intuition and spontaneity that lie in the heart-and stomach-of every good cook. It will take its place on the shelf right next to Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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Review:

In Glorious French Food, James Peterson argues that once you understand a recipe's "logic and context," and the techniques required to follow it, you actually have something much more valuable than the recipe itself--you have the knowledge to create variations, make simplifications, and cook with spontaneity. Although French cuisine is often accused of being fussy and time-consuming, Peterson's clear instructions demystify many traditionally finicky recipes, and in the process, teach us how to cook anything.

The hundreds of recipes presented here are a pleasure to peruse; kitchen novices can work their way through this hefty volume and come out the other end accomplished cooks. Peterson details necessary equipment, techniques, and ingredients for each recipe so that by the time you start making it, you're fearless. Some of his dishes are remarkably simple, like the beautifully fresh, ready-in-minutes Shaved Fennel Salad, or the richly aromatic French Onion Soup. Others are more complicated, but all teach a lesson: In the Roast Chicken chapter, learn to roast without a thermometer, truss without a needle, make gravy, and then succeed at Roast Chicken Stuffed Under the Skin with Spinach and Ricotta. Learn to make pasta dough, and then re-present leftover Provençal Lamb Stew (if there's any of this heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth tender, orange-scented stew left) as Meat-Filled Ravioli. Perfect for fans of French cuisine, this is also a remarkably handy reference guide for any kitchen. --Leora Y. Bloom

From the Inside Flap:

James Peterson's books have won enthusiastic acclaim, from the pages of the New York Times to the accolades of leading chefs such as Daniel Boulud, Jeremiah Tower, and Alice Waters. Now this James Beard Award-winning author and teacher shares his passion for the flavors of France with a completely original and inspiring new approach to the classic dishes of French cuisine.

In Glorious French Food, Peterson explores the essential ingredients, techniques, and recipes of French cooking to uncover the underlying principles and connections that have helped define its unique culinary traditions. Through this broadened perspective, he shows cooks how to move beyond recipes and bring the spirit and techniques of French cuisine to their own special dishes. Comprehensive in scope and scale, Glorious French Food can help everyone acquire a deeper understanding of French food-and become a better cook in the process.

Peterson begins with classic French recipes that embrace the full range of French cooking styles, from cuisine classique to bistro cooking to nouvelle cuisine. He "gets inside" each basic recipe to reveal the essence of the dish through its history, evolution, ingredients, and preparation techniques. Then he shows how to use this knowledge to create delicious new dishes that are faithful to the spirit of the original recipe, but also distinctive and fresh.

In Peterson's hands, timeless Duck à l'Orange gives rise to the subtle Salad of Sautéed or Grilled Duck Breasts and Sautéed Duck Breasts with Classic Orange Sauce, while traditional Cheese Soufflé blossoms into stunning Individual Goat Cheese Soufflés and Twice-Baked Mushroom Soufflés with Morel Sauce. He also charms sweet tooths with such delightful desserts as Ginger Pôts-de-Crème and Orange-Flavored Crème Caramel, both derived from classic Crème Brulée.

Infused with Peterson's characteristic wit, warmth, and easy conversational style, Glorious French Food is as delicious to read as it is to cook from. Filled with exciting recipes and ideas, it is an irresistible resource for everyone who enjoys French cooking at its glorious best.

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